President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday that the congestion in Nigeria’s prisons have constituted national scandal and directed that something should be done to drastically decongest the prisons.
President Buhari expressed his displeasure with the condition of the country’s prisons when he received a delegation of Justices of Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen who paid him a courtesy visit at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. He said that the prisons were over crowded by up to 90 per cent.
According to him, “We need a new approach to prisons de-congestion. It is a national scandal that many prisons are overcrowded by up to 90 percent. Urgent new measures should be put in place to speedily de-congest prisons not only in the interest of justice but also to save cost for prisons maintenance and enhance the welfare of prisoners.”
President Buhari said that the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami had since requested that courts be established within prisons, in order to address the problem of logistics associated with the movement of suspects to courts during trials.
He said, “My Attorney General is advocating establis-hment of courts inside the prisons to speed up de-congestion. The logistical problem of transporting prisoners from prisons to courts means a difficult period for detainees. This is really bad.”
He commended the judiciary for establishing special courts to speed up trial for corruption and other criminal cases, adding that government decided to increase the budgetary allocation to the Judiciary, in view of the role it plays. He assured that his administration would sustain it in order to improve the dispensation of justice.
He said: “We are not unmindful of the daunting challenges faced by the judiciary in the areas of infrastructure and funding. This informed our decision to increase the judiciary’s budget in the 2017 fiscal year which we are committed to sustain. I have asked the Attorney General to take up this matter with the salaries and wages commission for advice to the President.”
He however lamented that huge sums were being spent on security, especially in the North-East and Niger-Delta regions, instead of meaningful development to better the lives of citizens, stressing that the stability of the country depends a lot on the Judiciary and Police.
Speaking earlier, the CJN, Justice Onnoghen thanked God for healing the President from his ailment.
Justice Onnoghen reassured the President that the judiciary would continue to do its best for the country. He also thanked the federal executive council for its support and cooperation.
He said, “Today is a very unique day. It is a day we have come, the judiciary as a body to welcome you back home.”